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I took two weeks off. I needed it.

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Regarding Ukraine - I am not aware of any war that was won by staying continually on the defensive.

Russia will have to decide whether it has the stomach to do what it takes to actually win. Since the beginning, Russia has shown endless reluctance to do so, and has let its enemies off the hook on at least two occasions.

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Guess I need to use alternative insults, as this takes the shine off the pejorative connotation for ass hole

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Aug 21·edited Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I am saddest of all for the Ukrainian troops being fed into the meat grinder. Zelensky cannot be anything less than ultra-hawkish, since he is not trusted by his own senior personnel. As a result his decision making is constrained. Further, his foreign sponsors apparently don't care how many Ukrainians get killed, so long as they are keeping the pressure on Russia, and he must keep them happy. There seems to be no scenario where the Ukrainians can dislodge the Russians from the territory they have already taken, at least not by the means currently available to the Ukrainians.

The recently failed counter-offensive looks like Kursk in 1943, with even German made "animal" tanks (Leopards rather than Tigers or Panthers this time) on the attacking side, and the same futile slog through mines and prepared defenses eating up the attacker's offensive power, with no coherent theory of victory, and no purpose to the attack other than attacking for its own sake.

Next up, waves of outdated (designed in the 1970s), unstealthy F-16s flown by under-trained Ukrainian pilots against a top notch air defense system. The massacre of patriotic Ukrainians will continue in the wild blue yonder.

The entire thing is tragic.

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Aug 21·edited Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Regarding the progressive Celtics article, the Irish referendums on abortion and same sex marriage both saw voters leaning significantly more progressive than government. Same can broadly be seen across all topics run through the Citizens Assembly of Ireland in recent years. I personally don't see his argument that elite progressives have captured Irish government in an unrepresentative way to be true (at least in the way he paints the picture).

The Irish political issues mentioned in his article (hate speech and transgender laws) may have been controversial internationally but neither captured public attention in any meaningful way domestically beyond fringe protest groups.

A better lens of "progressive vs conservative" in Ireland is the divide growing between agriculture and government / activist groups on climate policy, which has the potential to become the first real 21st Century populism movement in Irish politics (example: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/39224ff0-3ecc-11ee-bb14-4a4bb3eeebb7).

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"What about the cultural factors? This is what I am left asking after reading this article." I think Thomas Prosser does in fact give part of an answer - albeit in a rather oblique way - when he observes: "If voters know little about the record of Scottish and Welsh governments, instead concentrating on the Conservative government in Westminster, public scrutiny is limited." In other words the baseline of the political culture in the Celtic nations (more so in Scotland and Wales; less so in Ireland) has long been the visceral resentment of the English (or rather their caricature of the English) and a kind of romanticised self-pity. So devolved governments - however grossly self-absorbed and unrepresentative - can get a free ride simply by playing the 'English' card. To my mind, the worst part of all this is the way that the English establishment have always unwittingly encouraged this by endlessly romanticising Celticness at their own expense. I have written about that aspect of it in this piece: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/englishness-as-a-brand

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I hope it delights the naturalists who get to write about “ass holes” instead of some much more boring label for the phenomenon. Who says science can’t be fun?

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I think there is a consensus among political elites in Western countries that superstructural cultural issues, such as gender politics/activism, are effective and proven ways to distract from worsening material conditions. It presents an unresolvable philosophical problem that strikes right at the heart of the liberal ideology, and one which fires up large swathes of the population - whilst directly effecting a minisucule number directly. The governing SNP party in Scotland, without their cultural agenda, is merely another corrupt, self-serving neoliberal party. Coupled with their claims to be the best hope for future Scottish independence, their cultural policies are what are keeping them in power.

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It is noteworthy that the national-conservative revolution happened also in a small country, Hungary.

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I really laugh at what is considered "Far Right" by the chuds that set the Overton Window. Claremont? The Unz Review had about 8.5M pageviews and 2.7M visitors in July...that's about half the views and a third the visitors of National Review, gate keepers of the 'acceptable' right...

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Fisted's comments on Ukraine are so ignorant as to be startling for someone who seems so smart.

The current Ukrainian counteroffensive is hardly a failure. Every day, and almost everywhere on the front, the Russians are in retreat. There are no big breakthroughs because the US has prevented the Ukrainians from achieving air superiority by not supplying F16s. And as we know, NATO doctrine is that air superiority is the precondition for defeating a seriously entrenched enemy. Instead, Ukrainians are having to do it the old fashioned and extremely bloody way, defensive line by defensive line – or maybe hedgerow by hedgerow, as in Normandy, which took the allies almost three months to get past. To say that D-Day failed eight weeks after the landings would have exceedingly stupid.

And anyway, war is not about terrain. It is about the ability to fight. And the Ukrainians have been methodically degrading the Russians ability to fight, interdicting logistics, killing soldiers in stunning numbers, demoralizing the army. That less obvious campaign will bear fruit in due time. Success will come gradually, and suddenly, to paraphrase Hemingway.

Whether or not Ukraine is a project of the neocons does not make them in charge of anything. Ukrainians are not taking orders from the Americans, because first and foremost, they are now obviously fighting for their independence against long time oppressors, engineers of an historic genocide, and a current aggressor who is a tyrant, a successor to the KGB, and the leader of not so much a nation as a collection of gangsters. For the Russians, far from being a building success, the current battlefield slaughter is an accelerating catastrophe, for the Russian people, and for the leadership. A coup attempt in the middle of a war is hardly a sign of success.

But not only are the Ukrainians not taking orders from the US (the US had originally decided that Ukraine was lost, removed their embassy, and famously offered Zelensky transport out, to which he replied he wanted weapons instead), they are participating with their allies in the creation of the real post Cold War Europe, where the center of power is moving east from the decadent and sclerotic Western "powers" France and Germany to the clear-headed Central Europeans from the Baltics to the Mediterranean. The Baltic countries and Poland – and Ukraine – are calling the shots in this emerging Europe, and it's telling that the British have lined up to play their traditional game of opposing the French and the Germans in the 21st century by supporting other European powers, namely the Poles, Baltics, Scandinavians, Ukrainians and their other allies. If you haven't noticed, the Ukrainians and the Poles will have the largest and most powerful militaries in Europe (including Russia) by the end of the war, if they don't already have them now. In the case of the Ukrainians, they will be battle-hardened.

The real surprise of the war is the Europeans finally stepping up to fund and supply the Ukrainians. The Finns, the Swedes, the Baltics, the Poles, even the Italians, Czechs, Romanians, Bulgarians, etc. are actually now offering meaningful support – which provides hope that there is a future NATO where US participation is cut down to size. Trumpists should be happy.

The other notable reality is that US policy remains mired on stupid. The puppeteers around Biden are playing a game which is too smart by half: supply the Ukrainians to bleed the Russians, but never give them as quickly or completely as possible what they really need to actually defeat the Russians and end the war. Instead, they prefer to retain leverage over Zelensky by withholding the long range strike capabilities which would cripple Russian logistics, and the planes it needs to take the skies from the Russians and be able to punch through their WWI defenses in the occupied East. And in so doing, they think they are so clever, thinking that allows them to offer Putin an offramp to ending the war before his regime collapses when the battlefield defeat finally comes (because a defeated Russia finally removes the need for US leadership of NATO?). Instead all they are doing is prolonging the war and the mischief that might allow, and demonstrating, once again, they are increasingly incompetent in managing the world.

The idea that Russia is invincible is simply a myth. Russian hasn't won a war since WWII, and that one only because the US armed them. They've been losing wars back to the first Crimea war in the 19th century that Tolstoy actually fought in. They lost the Russo-Japanese war. They lost WWI. The Russian elites lost the Russian Revolution. They lost the Afghan war. And, of course, they lost the Cold War. Continuing to assert that they are destined to win this war is, what? – sharing Putin's self-delusion that he has returned Russia to its position as a great power? But surely even he doesn't believe that anymore, because a great power doesn't get bogged down in war with a country that he thought he could conquer in three days. Indeed, what the Ukrainian war has demonstrated is that Russia's actual near peer is a country on the order of North Korea. By the end of the war, the Poles and the Ukrainians will have a military vastly more competent and powerful than Russia. Presaging the final collapse of the Russian empire?

It's time to reevaluate what's going on in Ukraine. It's a revolution against an imperial power. Other nations are using it to advance their own interests as they interpret them. But to think those other nations actually control Ukraine at this point – any more than the French controlled the Americans in their revolt against the British just because they provided support – is a profound mistake. Ukraine's European allies want nothing less than to permanently remove Russia as a threat (the heel of Russian occupation on their necks is too fresh and bitter a memory) and to build a new power center in Europe that puts the pusillanimous Western Europeans in their place. The real 21st century realignment of Europe started with Putin's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. And by midcentury, the power structure of Europe will look more like the turn of the 20th century than the turn of the 21st, with a newly assertive Central Europe in charge.

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Thanks for the second Saturday, this Croatian Calendar should be the standard.

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

What is the likelihood of Russia being provoked into a) toppling the Ukrainian government and/or b) occupying Western Ukraine?

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Many thanks for the mention :-)

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I can’t disagree with the Ukraine post except to say; It’s worse.

Combined arms means artillery and AIR. There’s no Ukraine air.

The Ukrainian and Western arms air defense shield is depleted.

Raytheon pulled people from retirement to reboot the Stinger line. (COBOL Anyone?).

This war was over in the Spring of 22 and it’s been $$$ and headcount $$$ since, war profiteering and the inability of the American Blob state to exert any administrative control once they start the snowball rolling downhill. << never mind events taking a life of their own.

Everything said about the time to train an army has been known since the Persian Empire (see Cyropedia by Xenophon) and the Romans took 4 years to build a Legion. A Legion was 4400 , the size of a US BCT/Brigade Combat Team.

To conduct a too long advertised offensive with artillery inferiority, in fact inferiority in all categories especially experienced troops and leaders with no air cover into very well prepared defenses against any enemy with far larger reserves may be one of the most criminal acts of military malpractice in history especially more than a year in.

You gotta love Foreign Affairs covering their ass they think by publishing the known training shortcomings the day the offensive starts.

They think; actually its a confession the day of the crime.

Enough with the stupid academic sociopaths in government.

Can we please have a better class of criminals?

I know some guys...

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Aug 21Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Combined arms means artillery and AIR as well as infantry and armored maneuver after the engineers breached the obstacles... magically as hopelessly under resourced, and insanely delusional as the Russians would have crushed any penetration with a fraction of their artillery or the held back air.

This was a cosmetic offensive that killed thousands for Public Relations, to keep the $$$ going.

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